Silos for food security and to reduce post harvest loss

SUMMARY

Summary: I have spent 3 years developing a low cost ($75) and easy to build, ½ ton, grain silo to reduce post harvest loss, and to improve food security by storing grain for extended periods. Two yea

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Silos for food security and to reduce post harvest loss


Summary:
I have spent 3 years developing a low cost ($75) and easy to build, ½ ton, grain silo to reduce post harvest loss, and to improve food security by storing grain for extended periods. Two years of the develoment time was performing a holding test which I finished in April of 2009,  with good results.

This would be a good design for small scale farms or grain merchants.
This silo will hold 1/2 ton of corn and cost about $75 for materials. The skills and methods of construction could be taught to those with average to above average skills and or dexterity. This silo design can be constructed from common materials and can be constructed off grid, using only hand tools and a solar charged battery drill. I want to develop workshops to train people to build this and other designs

Needs Assessment:

Small farmers in Africa need better storage systems for their grain storage.
It has been estimated that from 10 to 30% of grain harvest are lost to
fungal and bacterial decay, damage by insects, rodents, natural disasters like storms and fire.
Another problem is drying grain to the point it can be stored during wet weather. This can especially be a problem when the crops are late or the rainy season is early. How well and how soon one is able to dry grains, has a lot to do with how long it can be stored.
It would be very helpful to be able to hold grain for two years, in case of a crop failure, but for grain to be held two years it will need to be routinely dried and fumigated, and possibly pasteurized.
 
Proposed Solution:
What small farmers in Africa need is
an inexpensive and easy to build silo design that will store grains for up to two years.

A silo with a fumigating function that will work with, easy to produce, common compounds to deal with insects from without and from within.

A silo that is Rodent proof and insect proof with access or dispensing  ports that are tight but easy to use.  

A silo that is water proof to prevent molds and a drying function to dry newly harvested grains as well as to periodically blast out excess moisture and to dehydrate insects.

Being able to pasteurize grains may also be a useful function.

A silo that is fire proof and storm proof.

Silos that are inexpensive, and not too large, so that one could afford multiple smaller silos to segregate different grains, and different quality grains to prevent cross contamination.

One may have a silo for, pre harvest damaged grain, or last years crop, or animal food, and one may have another silo for higher quality  grain for people and for next years seed.

Steps I have already taken to solve the problem:
I have been working on such a silo design for 3 years. Two years of that was doing a holding test which I finished in April of 2009 with good results.
I did have one problem with this first prototype, with a leak in the flat cap piece, but I can easily solve that problem with the next prototype, so I am pleased with the results.
I was able to control insects and rodents well.
The silo has a unique grain dispensing port that functions great and a charcoal burner used for drying and fumigating.
The skills and methods of construction could be taught to those with average to above average skills and or dexterity. This silo design is constructed from common materials and can be constructed off grid, using only hand tools and a battery drill, which can be solar charged. Welding is not necessary.
The cost for materials is less than $75 for a half ton silo.

Conclusion:
I am very pleased with the cost, performance and the construction methods of this first prototype. I am confident enough, that I am willing to go forward  because I believe it will be a practical design, that will be accepted by small scale farms or grain merchants.


Plan Next Step:
The next step is to build 10 or 12 silos to refine the construction methods and to get some silos out locally to be tested with this fall’s harvest. I would also like to start developing a workshop by training one or two people (possibly Peace Core Volunteers) to build a few silos in Africa to test with this falls harvest.

Needs Assessment:
I am self funded and all my resources for this project have been exhausted, to get to this point.
I need help to move forward this summer so test can be performed on this falls harvest. It takes two years to do a long term storage test, so I do not need to miss this falls harvest. There is less risk in helping because of the work I have already done.
I will also have needs later, to help fund the implementation of a larger program of development, and to train the next years crop of silo fabricators, possibly Peace Core Volunteers.

Real World Impact:
I believe this design has the potential to be widely used.
Volunteers in the field need good designs, there is a vacuum to be filled.

Video of prototype:                                                                                                                                 I have a short video clip of the dispensing port being used in the introduction to my Hybrid Stove video on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGXv7buNUMY

I may show more video if there is enough interest.

I also am developing biomass cooking stoves designs that could be used by Peace Core Volunteers to help people in developing areas, view my other YouTube videos, my channel is “LannyPlans”

 

Lanny Henson

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